Photograph a Stranger.



The images:


  • The person should be unknown to you.
  • It can be a street portrait, studio portrait or environmental portrait.
  • The portrait should be simply lit.
  • Tell us a little bit about the person – through the image and the caption.
  • Tell us how you approached and worked with the subject(s) for the project.

Photographing someone you don’t know can be a scary proposition for many of us. I am fairly shy, or at least not that comfortable with walking up to someone and striking up a conversation. I usually will not do that.

Monday Evening, April 28 Webinar.

UNLESS… I have my camera around my neck or in my hand. When I am ‘a photographer’ I can easily and without hesitation walk up to people and ask to make their picture. I do it a lot, actually.

You see, the camera gives me cover. The camera makes it about the photograph, not me. The camera is both a shield and a passport to meeting people.

In the photograph that is the cover shot of this post, I found this gentleman just taking in the photoshoot at a local business. We were nearly done with the shot, so I asked him if I could get a photograph of him. He leaned against the wall and we did several. He kinda got into it after a few clicks.

I got my shots, and met a very nice guy. It also gave me one more image to possibly use in the brochure that was being shot.

Here are some links and videos to get your imaginations going. (Oh, and to that little voice that holds you back from walking up to someone you don’t know… tell that little voice to go away, you are a photographer and this must be done. Period.)


Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) discusses how he approaches strangers on the streets of New York.

Brandon at work.

Brandon with Chase Jarvis:

Here is Lee Friedlander’s wonderful book: America by Car:

There are many portraits of strangers interspersed with the shots from his car.

Watch Mark Cohen at work:

Not my style at all, but he gets some pretty interesting photographs. If this kind of portraiture appeals to you, here is how Mark does it.

Joel Meyorowitz:

One of my favorite photographers is Eliott Erwitt. See his work here. Lots of photographs of strangers with a very humanistic and humorous approach.

Ian Berry in Rome.

Which of these photographers do you identify with in the specific “Photographing a Stranger” assignment?

Eric Mcnatt Photographer
Eric Ogden
Dawoud Bey
David Eustace
Richard Rinaldi

Robert Frank photographed the people he met… strangers. His book, “The Americans” was a landmark collection of photography and he influenced countless photographers in the ‘street’ photography genre. Here is a link to his images and this is the book to add to you collection of important photographic books.